Christian Conca turned a single into a run-scoring jaunt and for the RCBC Ghost 13U Royals.
By Rich Bevensee
Learning how to climb out of a hole was the first lesson the Richmond County Baseball Club Ghost 13U Royals learned in their debut on a 60-90 baseball field this weekend.
Not long after, the Royals proved to coach Paul Myers they learned their lesson by flipping the script and jumping out to a sizable lead against their next opponent.
Michael Rizzo, Sal Conti and Peter Lynskey, the top three batters in the Royals lineup, provided four RBI in a five-run second inning and pushed the Staten Island club to a 10-1 victory over Rampage 13U of Queens Village, N.Y., in pool play Sunday at the Battle At The Turf at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
“At this age level, they fool around a lot so focus is very important, and so is confidence. They go hand in hand,’ Myers said. “So if they’re not focused, confidence is out the window and they’re never going to execute anything. I feel like if they can consistently stay focused on their confidence, they can execute.”
Christian Conca likes what that focus produces.
“I think we did pretty good. We’re looking forward to going on to more tournaments and hopefully doing better,” Conca, the Royals’ second baseman said.
Neither the Royals (1-1) nor the Rampage (0-2) advanced to the four-team 13U playoff. Pool play was abbreviated due to inclement weather on Saturday.
The victory was a nice rebound from the Royals’ previous game, moments earlier, in which they gave up seven runs early and saw their seventh-inning rally fall short in a 7-4 loss to the New York Gothams.
“I explained to them that that was a good team we faced but they didn’t beat us – we beat ourselves,” Myers said of the Gothams game. “It was two or three plays and it got out of hand. We showed we could compete with them by scoring runs later in the game, but early on we gave them their runs.”
Pitching was key to the Royals picking up their first win of the new season at the Nation. Conti, with plenty of zip on his fastball, pitched 2⅔ innings and allowed one run on one hit with four walks and four strikeouts. Eddie Haberstroh and Lynskey combined for 2⅓ innings of scoreless relief with no hits, four walks and one strikeout.
“I don’t think hitters think I throw as hard as I do,” Conti said. “I think together we had a good strong hold against them today. Our fastballs were on point and we caught a lot of hitters off guard.”
“Our pitching is very strong when they are loose and ready but we’re bringing them along slowly, 30-40 pitches, at the most 50 a game until we get into the bulk of our season,” Myers said. “Wins and losses don’t mean anything right now, especially at this level.”
With the Royals leading 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning, Conca ignited his team’s definitive rally when he led off with a single through the right side. The ball skipped past the Rampage right fielder and Conca galloped all the way around the bases for an unexpected round-tripper.
“I saw the ball go through and I was thinking, I’m going three,” Conca said. “I saw my coach waving and I didn’t think I was going to make it home. He was waving me home and I just put my head down.”
After a single and two walks loaded the bases, Rizzo walked to force in a run. Conti added an RBI single to left and Lynskey ripped a two-run single to left center for a 7-0 lead.
Noel Soto broke up the shutout for the Rampage by walking with the bases loaded in the bottom of the third. Soto had the shot of the game, a blast to the left-center field wall for a two-out double in the first inning, but Conti stranded him by inducing an infield ground out.
There were a number of web gems in the game, including the play of the game by Conca in the bottom of the second. He dove into the hole on the right side to stop a grounder by Johnny Daggett and threw to first from his knees to get the out.
One good turn deserves another, and Conca was robbed in the very next inning by Rampage right fielder Michel Sime, who made a shoestring catch of a Texas Leaguer in shallow right.
In the third inning, Rampage center fielder Ethan Osorio made a diving lunge to steal a potential bloop single by Conti.
The Royals had the last defensive laugh in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Nick Cianciaruso scooped up a Mateo Grasso grounder and tagged second to start a game-ending 6U-3 double play.